For younger people who are looking to make the jump into leadership for the first time, there can be a lot of uncertainty. That’s fine. As I have discussed in a previous blog, you have to be ready to fail and learn on the job and you absolutely must admit you are fallible before you accept a leadership position.
A recent article in HBR hit on that final point in a way that made me want to revisit it on my own blog. It’s about the negative effects that power can have on an individual in leadership. Now, ask yourself honestly: are you aspiring to lead for the right or the wrong reasons?
Power empowers people to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do. Think about some of the high-profile scandals featuring public figures that you’ve seen in your lifetime. Some of the most powerful people have done things that are, to the majority of us, quite shocking simply because their inflated egos have convinced them that they can get away with it. Be aware that this is a slippery slope. You don’t want to be the type of leader that justifies even the smallest slice of poor behavior because you believe your position of power will allow you to “get away with it.” The ultimate truth is that you don’t “get away with” any act you follow through on.
Power also makes people increasingly focused on themselves. It’s good, even necessary, to be self-aware. But to be selfish or self-centered, especially for a leader, is a tragic flaw. Leaders need to know themselves well enough that they can place most of their focus on their employees and the problems of the business as a whole, rather than worrying about how they are being perceived or whether or not everyone is following their instructions or paying them full respect.
For current and prospective leaders: don’t let power get to your head. You have too much responsibility for that. If necessary, make some efforts to get a bit more comfortable in your own skin. Great leaders use their power to inspire. Curious about how you can do that? Get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.